In my Father’s eyes

Father’s Day: Discussion on impact of the absence black father and his role in the family.

In light of the month of Father’s Day, I am going to dwell on the importance of our fathers and largely, how not having a father in the picture can have negative effects in one’s life.

It is a well known fact that every child needs a father in their life, although the sad reality is that not everyone has the privilege to actually know and grow up with their father. Many circumstances like death, being walked out on and distance barriers among other reasons are many of the reasons why our society is growing up without fathers. Many children who grow up with the absence of a father tend to have a sense of rejection at some point in their lives. In the case where the father has passed away, it often does not leave children with bitterness and a sense of rejection like in the case where divorce or separation occurs as well as when the father denies responsibility altogether.

Some studies reveal that women who grow up without a father figure in their life tend to show reserve to a certain extent when it comes to their own trust in men. It is the father who sets the example for how and what it means to be loved by a man. She learns valuable lessons what is and what is not acceptable when it comes to the opposite sex.  Many women share the disheartening experience of getting married without their father presence. Some have resolved with the absence of their father, however the pain can be re-ignited because their father is not present to support and walk her through that life changing decision.

It is also expected that when fathers are active in the lives of their children, the latter have a sense of belonging-knowing where you actually emanate from. In the black family set-up, it is of paramount value that each child’s existence is celebrated.

In certain cases, if a father has been absent in one’s life for several years, sometimes the child still longs to know who their father is and even details of what he looks like. This is a point of self identification and awareness of where they come from. The need to know can grow strong in certain children who search for their fathers. This is a similar situation with adopted children, as the need to know the roots of their existence is important. Majority of these cases spur from grown up men and women who have their own families and children.

In a recent study, a boy who grew up and became a father for the first time while already in his mid-20’s could not contain his joy when finding his father.  What intrigued him more was how striking the resemblance with his dad was. He felt a sense of belonging and found resolve and gained confidence in his own fatherhood.

In African cultures, the role of the father is to provide and protect for the family and instil values (ethical, cultural, moral). He is to pass on many traditions, kinship and sometimes chiefdom to his descendents. He is also the guide for his son’s right of passage into manhood. In essence, the absence of the father in many African cultures consequently leads to an “open” home vulnerable to moral decay. Note: the key word is “vulnerable”-to show that homes without father’s can be vulnerable but it does not necessarily mean they fall prey to the vulnerability although in some case studies it has proven to be so.

However, the up-side of the black culture is that any male within the family structure can stand in as a father. The uncles, brothers and grandfathers step in and play the role of father. The role of guiding, disciplining and providing is still catered for to a certain extent although it might never be likened to what the real father would do in his rightful position.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, any man can father a child but it takes a real man to be a Dad.

Written by Gladys Mutemeri, Contributor Writer

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